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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Open Business as Entrepreneurs Lifecycle Management

After doing some research and experimenting with "collaborative entrepreneurship", this is how I see that Open Business should (and hopefully will) emerge:
Entrepreneurs Lifecycle Management:

- Entrepreneurs, because they are the drivers of the economy, the ones who create value from their ideas. They should be the clear focus for any business opportunity.
- Lifecycle Management, because throughout their life they will most probably succeed at some point, and they will succeed many times if they are good at what they do
The cycle includes starting a project/company, generating revenues, cashing out or growing through acquisition. All transactions that can easily be identified and measured.

So what's new?

The current model for business is based around corporations with many individuals and projects. The individuals inside the corporation are managed by the excutive team. The executive team ultimately answers to the investors. And the overall responsibility for actions is spread along the chain with enough intermediaries that none can feel entirely responsible for anything bad that the Corporation does.
Inside the corporation, the focus is on products or services issued managed as projects. And while everybody agrees that the people are what makes the difference most of the time between good and bad projects, the focus remains on projects, and the assumptions is that one qualified individual can be replaced by another qualified individual.

Instead, I would like to suggest that a better model would be to focus on entrepreneurs, and the team of individuals around them.
In this model:
- everybody is their own corporation of one individual
- the project is managed as a commons, with the entrepreneur as the benevolant dictator and with the other people involved as contributors volunteering to the project
- the entrepreneur carries the idea, and keeps the motion forward with the help of whoever is relevant at a specific time/phase of his project
- At each step of the lifecycle (where transactions are clearly identified and value can be measured), the entrepreneur will decide how much value was added by who, and will distribute the reaches accordingly

Yeah right, but how do you make it work?

There are many issues obviously with the model:
- it takes a while to see revenue: this all depends on where the entrepreneur is in his lifecycle when you meet him. If he is just getting started with a project, it may take some time. But if he already has revenue coming in, then it becomes much easier.
- it requires that everybody has access to an entrepreneur: this is what social networking should help achieve. Whoever comes out of school or is looking for a job is already using his/her network to find such a job. So people are already going through the motion, the only difference is that since the system is focused on people, it requires to focus not just on skills, but also affinity with the entrepreneur and the other members of the team. I believe that it is better to have such focus anyway, so this is not really a big leap from what we have today.
- it requires complex discussions to distribute revenues: yes, it may be complex, but no if the size of the "business cell" is small enough. In order for such a model to take off it needs to be constructed with a layer of small businesses rather than huge organizations. But we are seeing already that ecosystems of small subcontractors are doing very well if not better than large organizations in Asia (see the ecosystems studied in "The Only Sustainable Edge" from John Seely Brown). So if we are talking small business cells, discussions remain at the human level and are very manageable. If I do not get what I think should be my share of the rewards, I am always free to work with somebody else. At the same time, the entrepreneur has no interest in being unfair because the word would get out and nobody would want to work for him.
- It will be hard to get investment: who would invest in projects if they are not hosted within corporations? Well, what we are talking about is similar to what has been done to IP in the Open Source model. Everybody gets the right to use instead of the right to own. So now investors are contributors, except that they contribute money instead of just time. And they will get their share just as the other contributors (call them angel employees for this discussion, or think advisory capital as described by Stowe Boyd). The good news with this concept is that money will no longer get accumulated in stock, but rather it will be re-distributed to all contributors. As the result, it will also probably become a lot less sparse than it is today.

Some good things about this:
- no need for large corporations anymore, the corporation is used for individuals to be the recipient of their business personna. This will bring to an end a model where organizations will sometime knowingly do the wrong thing for the sake of generating revenue for their investors. In a one man corporation, nobody can hide.
- a much stronger focus on people: any contributor is no longer a pion in a large organization, but rather somebody who chose to work with a given entrepreneur or a given team, and who has been accepted for his/her contribution - a good thing for everybody's own self estim
- a "companion" model, where individual contributors will be included as part of a team, and where it is everybody's interest that each individual keep learning and growing.

So how real is this?

As I mentionned earlier, and as it has been presented for example in "The Only Sustainable Edge", collaborative entrepreneurship and crowdsourcing are trends going in the right directions. Meanwhile telecommuting is changing the way people think about their job and how they relate to their company.
I believe that change is on the way.
Let me know if you think I am dreaming...

Monday, August 28, 2006

How I would like to consume

I have read a lot about attention economy and how we could make it easier as consumers for brands to reach us.

Everything that I have seen or read so far requires extra work on my side, to install a piece of software or maintain my data somehow. I do not think than the average consumer would go for this. Who has time to install software so that we can receive targeted ads?

Meanwhile, it is also true that when I want to buy a car, or a camera, or a surf board, I am looking for information and it would be good to have it all in one place.

So far Google has done a very good job at helping me do this, and I suspect this is the reason for the success they have with their Google ads. But it is still a painful process, because the data I have access to is not always good quality. has also done a very good job at helping me if I am a geek and I want to get into collaborative filtering.

But what I really want is a repository of product information, a mix of wikipedia and YouTube, where all brands would agree to show their product information, including cool videos or cool ads that they may have. And if brands are really sincere about helping me, they would even allow the public to add their own comments or revisions to the information.

With this ONE SOURCE OF TRUTH, I will be able get the information I need when I need it, and then I will be able to decide what I want to buy.

It would be nothing different from what I do today, except that it would be designed from the beginning to work for me.

So what happens to competition?

Well, with this system in place, it will become more obvious than competing is not about luring me into believing something about the product, but rather it will be about truly providing value, through great prices (value to my budget) and through great features, which is what it should be about.

If any one brand cares about getting my attention, please listen to this...